S02E06 – The Lost Art Of Delayed Gratification

Talking About Marketing Podcast by Steve Davis and David Olney

How do you get through to your customers and potential customers in this era when pleasure is not only expected but still leaves them jaded?

It's hard to be novel and the star of the show these days, for any more than Andy Warhol's famed "15 minutes" because all of us are saturated with pleasure triggers. Professor Anna Lembke pulls the curtains back from this phenomena in her book, Dopamine Nation. It makes for some sobering reading.

Why did we have that drink, take that pill, ogle over titillating stories at the bottom of that online news story, spend hours trawling Netflix for something to bingewatch, or even pick up our phones to find ourselves reading this?

We are seeking pleasure in the form of distraction.

If you can stay with us, you will be rewarded by some intriguing insights for yourself and your business.

It should only take as long as it takes for the head to settle on a freshly poured pint of Guinness. Oh, that's the subject of our Perspicacity segment!

But we start by punting a footy around a country paddock, as Steve shares his unexpected and surprisingly effective method for switching off during down time.

Talking About Marketing podcast episode notes with timecodes

01:41  Person  This segment focusses on you, the person, because we believe business is personal.

Country Sport Shortcut

On a recent holiday, Steve stumbled onto a "hack" that helped him get into relaxation mode, fast.

Like most founders, he's pretty ordinary when it comes to switching off, but an overheard conversation in a bottle shop changed that.

On Friday evening in Middleton, Steve popped into the local hotel to get some whisky and wine (a nice segue into the next segment about being addicted to pleasure), when he overheard a couple of local lads talking about tomorrow's footy game against Mount Compass.

The next day, Steve and his family grabbled lunch in Mount Compass and then paid their $7 a head adult entry fee to access the local sports ground where his wife watched the local netball with one daughter, while he watched the local football with the other one.

Just 20 minutes into this process, having already having the first of many strangers come and sit next to him and start light conversation, Steve realised he'd cracked the code for finding the "off" switch for work and the "on" switch for social connection and relaxation: an afternoon immersed in country sport.

It might not have been as relaxing for the locals but because Steve had no skin in the game regarding team loyalties, he was able to just enjoy the atmosphere of humans engaged in good-spirited competition.

If you try this on your next stay in a regional area, let him know what you discover.

06:40  Principles  This segment focusses principles you can apply in your business today.

Dopamine Nation

Anna Lembke’s book, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence, helps us understand why instant gratification has become the norm.

According to Lembke’s argument, we live in a world of easy pleasure (fast food, instant entertainment, gaming, and pornography, just to mention a few) in which the addictive potential and pursuit of pleasure is ubiquitous.

Consequently, instant gratification characterises our age, and has some dark consequences: the more pleasure we experience, the more pleasure we want; the more pleasure we have experienced, the more pleasure it takes to get the same buzz; and the more pleasure we have experienced, the more any moment of suffering begins to feel like extreme pain, which can only be countered by even more pleasure.

Under these conditions, it is becoming progressively more difficult for people to concentrate on boring/neutral activities for any length of time, and people are becoming even less willing to do uncomfortable things.

Unsurprisingly, people who have learned delayed gratification, who can manage their pursuit of instant pleasure, have a real advantage in most aspects of life.

The only significant downside of delayed gratification is that people can learn to work so hard, for so long, that they can forget how to experience pleasure (that's a reverse segue back to the opening section about finding peace int local sport).

We all know at least one workaholic who no longer remembers how to have a relaxing day with their family and friends, or how to do something just for the sake of immediate pleasure. Our pleasure-pain balance can be messed up by both too much pleasure and too much suffering through hard work.

Delayed gratification is especially useful and only sometimes problematic, while instant gratification has become detrimental to our wellbeing.

Therefore, we need to reflect on how much pleasure we seek, how much pain minor suffering causes us, and how hard we should work toward our long-term goals.

In the conversation between David and Steve, they discuss what this means to us with our marketing hats on.

19:32  Problems  This segment answers questions we've received from clients or listeners.

Achieve SEO Gains By Attending To The Small Details

I have long had some fun entries on my much-neglected personal site, stevedavis.com.au, including some fictional About Me pages.

They have been designed to "cash in" on and experiment with the Google value of my namesakes like famous cricket umpire, Steve Davis, famous jazzman, English footballer, and, of course, the snooker player.

delayed gratification

Two weeks ago, I gave those pages a quick nip and a tuck, in which I double checked wording on the pages, ALT text on the images, and meta description information.

Despite having been published like that for more than 10 years, that "SEO spring clean" resulted in me getting around a dozen email enquiries for Steve Davis the snooker champion, having never had one ever before.

So, when inspiration isn't quite there, go through and spruce up the pages you have; you might be pleasantly surprised (as many businesses were early in Covid when they did just this and saw great results)

23:31  Perspicacity  This segment is designed to sharpen our thinking by reflecting on a case study from the past.

Waiting For Guinness

We reflect on an old ad for Guinness, this episode, because it amplifies the high degree of delayed gratification one needs while waiting for the head to settle on this black brew.

Could such an obscure ad as the Guinness Horses ad work today? Listen to the chat.

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